Friday, August 12, 2005

Emery's arrest is not about law enforcement

One of the arguments against Marc Emery's status as a political prisoner is that the US is singling him out for quite acceptable reasons of law enforcement. Emery is the largest distributor of marijuana seeds to the United States. Indeed, he is probably the pot kingpin in North America. If the US is to enforce its drug laws, which it has every right to do, then it makes perfect sense for them to start with Emery. Even without challenging the assertion that the US has every right to enforce its drug laws, this argument still falls flat on its face.

Any discussion of the Emery situation cannot ignore the fact that he was allowed to sell seeds for over five years without any challenge from police. During this time, the business expanded and others entered the American market. They all believed that they were acting acceptably, if not legally. Now the tide has turned. The American government has decided that they will no longer tolerate these actions. Indeed, they spent over a year building a case against Emery before applying for extradition. As the kingpin, it makes sense from a law enforcement point of view.

That is not all that makes sense, though. In order to truly enforce the law, Emery cannot be the only person charged. If he is, then the US will fail to stop the importation and at the same time prove that this was all politically motivated. However, the DEA must also know that by arresting Emery, other distributors will likely go underground. Why would they risk suffering Emery's fate? In order to convict others, the US must have evidence of wrongdoing by others. It is simple law enforcement.

This has implications for Canada's legalization movement. Whatever might be happening in the US, we all know that Canadian officials have stopped enforcing the laws and that our country is probably on the road to legalization. Meanwhile, though, the US will extradite more and more of the industry. This will likely drive up prices, create a more crime laden form of distribution instead of the many computer geeks who currently sell the stuff, and essentially change Canadian drug policy. Even if you disagree with me about what will happen, you do have to admit that sending Canada's drug industry to American jails at the behest of the DEA will result in the United States determining our drug policies. If you support punishment, then you should be calling on the Canadian government to do it. You should not be supporting American actions against our country's domestic policies.

Marc Emery will create a precedent. If he can be extradited, then anybody selling seeds can be extradited. All of these people will have begun their businesses under the assumption that they were not going to be punished. This assumption was allowed to arise by both the Canadian and American governments. Even if they stop now, they still probably be punished under American law. This is not about American law enforcement. It is stopping Canada's march towards legalization.

2 Comments:

Blogger Michael Cust said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Mycos said...

As a Canadian I am deeply distressed that American gun-dealers are allowed to sell guns to Canadians. I know that they will sell guns to Canadians that they are taking back to Canada. I am therefore calling on the FBI to arrest these dealers for extradition to Canada on charges of "conspiracy to Commit Murder". I believe this to be a fair trade. You stop the scourge of marijuana and we get to stop the murder of human beings. Sounds roughly equivalent No?

Mycos

3:12 PM  

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